Model 3 Offroaders!

Discussion in 'Customizing & Modifications' started by KarenRei, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. KarenRei

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    #1 KarenRei, Jul 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    So, for me, this is a relatively new way of thinking about my Model 3. As an unexpected (and incredibly shocking) birthday gift, my parents decided to upgrade me to a LR battery. Suddenly, there's the potential for me to get out into our highlands - a remote, extensive uninhabited wilderness where the best "roads" are just "someone drives a bulldozer across this route once a year", and the worst are "stakes pounded into a lava field", and where only the largest bodies of water are bridged.

    Now, having to deal with rough roads has to some extent always been my plan, as my land is on a (sometimes poor condition) gravel road. But this is a whole new possibility, and it's got me thinking a lot about the details. And I'm sure some other people have also thought some about taking bad roads (or no roads!) in their Model 3, so please join in here!

    Protection: I had previously not planned to do anything special to protect the paint. However, if I'm going to be taking highland roads, I really should have a clear bra applied to the "likely strike zones", ideally with a ceramic coat on the whole vehicle as well.

    Extra rims: An extra set of "junk" rims should also be on my to-buy list. They can be scratched up and ugly, but ideally lightweight. I could leave offroad tires permanently mounted to them. Will a full set of tires and rims fit in the Model 3 with the rear seats down? I think I've seen that somewhere, but I'm not positive.... The idea would be that I could either A) drive on my normal rims / tires out to the highlands, then swap (and swap back on the far end), and have the original rims / tires as a backup in case of blown tires; or B) swap out at home, and swap back when I get back home - giving me more space inside, and saving some weight (aka extra range), but requiring me to rely on a tire patch kit as a safety measure.

    Air suspension: Duh. I don't think I'd make it very far without being able to add at least a bit more height to the car. This of course would put me dependent on Tesla's timing whims... but at the very least I can't order until Eurospec comes out and they decide to start delivering to Iceland, so I have some time :)

    Larger tires: The offroad tires should ideally have about 1" extra rubber on them (since the suspension will be set to "very high" where possible, "high" the rest of the time - giving more room in the wheel wells). I imagine that 1" larger OD is about the most one could add on "high" without risk of bouncing up against the wheel wells?

    Clearance: If the air suspension stroke is like with the Model S, then "High" would add 0,9" and "Very High" would add 1,3". Combined with an extra inch of rubber, and the base 5,5" , this corresponds to 7,4" at over 10mph / 14 kph and 7,8" at under 10mph / 14kph. I wouldn't try lava fields or glaciers on that, but the primary potholed / washboard "bulldozer-made" roads? Yeah, I think that's just fine. But what about water crossings?

    Water: Wish I had better data for what levels are okay, but we can try to derive them. Clearly, Model 3 must be able to handle driving through "normal" levels of water in a city, because standing water happens, and you can't have gasoline cars happily driving through while Teslas die from a splash. Specifically, it must be able to handle them at low suspension settings, since some people will run in low all the time, so ~4,8". So on "very high", with an extra inch of rubber, this would put the offroad config at handling water "Three inches deeper than the maximum city water accumulation that the car would be tested to"

    What about water that's unexpectedly deeper? We've probably all seen Teslas functioning in "boat mode". But we've also probably also seen Teslas that have flooded. I think the best description of the behavior, from what I've seen is "if the car enters water level and low speed, it should float and stay functional for some number of minutes, but might (will?) slowly flood over time" Hitting water at speed, or at an angle (such as sideways), seems to result in a rapid shutoff (at least as far as Model S goes) - but if exposure isn't too long, the car is often recoverable, and sometimes just needs to drain to reboot. Some have even started back up after surprisingly long water exposure times, although this seems to be the exception, not the rule. Again, though, these are limits that I definitely wouldn't want to be pushing up against!

    I wish we could have some more detailed data from Tesla quantifying the risks associated with different water levels. With a gasoline car it's easy to quantify: if the air intake gets flooded, you'll flood the engine and the car will die. If it doesn't, you won't, and it won't. But with a Tesla, it feels like so much guesswork.

    Any other things that should be considered?
     
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  2. garsh

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    In that case, you may just want to order a set of 18" Aeros with winter tires. Elon has already stated that a lot of work went into making them very light. That's why they went with a wheel cover instead of a one-piece wheel.

    If you really think your rims are going to take some damage, then I'd suggest getting steelies instead. Steel wheels can be bent back in shape when damaged. Aluminum rims are harder and more expensive to repair.
    Yes, I bet that would be fine.
    It's probably fine. Hopefully somebody who doesn't care about warranties will perform a test at some point. In the meantime, I've always loved this video of a Nissan Leaf undergoing deep-water testing.

     
  3. Mesprit87

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    Happy for you for the upgrade;)

    How often do you plan to get out there? Is worth thrashing a somewhat hi-tech car? It will get damaged out of a standard road for sure.I agree with @garsh that a properly protected (painted) alloy wheel will save you some weight. I have used steel wheels for years for winter, they get all rusty and leaky. This is the first car that I will take the alloy route for winter, they might get leaky over time but they will look better for a while.

    How about adding a skid plate for the battery, I would get very concerned with a dented one. I understand that's the whole point of getting the car as high as possible but that unexpected higher rock needs to be taken into account. Even if it's an al sheet with spacers, it would be better than nothing.
     
  4. KarenRei

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    Indeed, that would be preferable. But I'd rather get a used pair that's already scuffed up than a new pair ;)

    More worried about scuffs than structural damage, particularly if the tires have a larger-than-standard sidewall.

    Yeah, that would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully I won't end up being that person, lol!

    Once or twice per year.

    What's the purpose of owning a car but then treating it like a museum piece? Cars are bought to be enjoyed. And highland trips are enjoyable. :) I do them in my pickup, but the thing is a dinosaur.

    Isn't it already armoured? I remember that after some debris strike incidents in the Model S incidents they put a titanium plate on it. I thought the 3 had a steel one.

    If not, then it's worth considering.
     
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  5. Mesprit87

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    I would invest in the dinosaur, if you intended to go there once a month that would be another thing.
    Who's talking about museum? I agree with you but sparing your car from a few trips like this could extend how long you are going to enjoy it:)
     
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  6. garsh

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    I don't remember hearing anything about the 3's battery pack being armored. I assume the bottom of the pack is decently thick and hard steel. But I don't actually know. Does anybody remember reading about it?
     
  7. c2c

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    If you are really offroading, and you are, you should consider external cargo. I like the Torklift trailer hitch. You pull off the bumper cover, and the bumper and bolt on the hitch. A little notch on the lower edge of the bumper cover, and a few dozen bolts and you get a 200 pound external load capacity. Mount a tray and bungee the wheels in. keep the interior for pets and people.
     
  8. garsh

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    I have a feeling that you won't have any problems finding a scuffed-up set of Aeros (15 pages and counting. wow).
     
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  9. garsh

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    Or just take a single spare with you.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Dr. J

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    Happy for you! Have your parents been lurking on the M3OC site and reading your comments about battery/range? :D
     
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  11. KarenRei

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    #11 KarenRei, Jul 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    So your advice is, spend your vacation time, all day driving, listening to a loudly rumbling, groaning cough of an engine, polluting the highlands with its outdated pollution controls? Sink money into a vehicle that only has half of a radio (the other half fell out), and the half that remains has a cassette permanently stuck in the tape teck? A vehicle with no airbags? With no ability to keep the "climate control" on at night without the engine running? This is what you think I should be driving around in, and that this makes for an enjoyable experience? And I should sink more money into it? What should I fix first, the diagonal-angled bumper?

    No. :)
     
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  12. KarenRei

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    I was talking about the car with my mom when she was here on vacation over my birthday. She kept encouraging me to add more packages, and I kept trying to bring her back down to financial reality. Eventually it ended with me writing up a document listing every Model 3 option, and every expected option in the future, and everything that's known about them and their pricing, and all of the pluses and minuses I have to say on each, and my general sense on each as to whether they're worth the expense. So like 2-3 pages worth ;) She went and forwarded it to my dad that night and they chatted about it, and well... ;) Their argument was, "I know you, you'll probably still be driving this same car 15 years from now and fixing anything that breaks no matter how major it is..." (which is probably true ;) ) "... so we want to make sure it's a good one".

    It was totally unexpected because my father is retired now. I mean, they're relatively well off, but they also have no income coming in.
     
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  13. Mesprit87

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    You know the state of your dinosaur better than I do and I get your point;)

    I have to do some off-roading daily:confused:
    WP_20180712_001.jpg

    Just imagine winter, in fact it's better when it's all white and smooth:D
    Time will tell if I will regret not waiting for the air suspension. Then again what happened to my fellow ontarians could happen over in Québec anytime.
    Sticking to the subject, lighting an issue or you travel in the summer?
     
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  14. KarenRei

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    Well, you see, there's a little bit of snow on the highland roads during the winter. And when I say " little bit", I mean "up to a couple dozen meters in places" ;)

    Highland roads are only open in the summer. The biggest ones for maybe 4 months out of the year; the smallest sometimes never open at all. Do remember that some of these go right alongside glaciers, aka places where the snow never melts ;)
     
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  15. c2c

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    If there is a spacex package for the Model 3, why not a Boring Co package? Go right through those drifts. No wind chill.
     
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  16. PandaM3

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    For the price of fabricating and installing an air suspension + an extra set of offroad tires & wheels why don't you get something specifically for the type of overlanding you want to do? You can get a 90's or early 2000's Toyota Land Cruiser for $5k to $10k.



    These things where built to have a 300,000 mile service life (meaning all that it needs for its first 300,000 miles are fluid changes, brakes, and tires). It does use dino juice however you have your Tesla for daily driving where as the Land Cruiser can be used for off the beaten path adventure. These things can sit for weeks and starts right back up with little fuss ready for adventure. Such a realiable beast of a machine that many of them unfortunately end up getting converted to make shift military vehicles in certain parts of the world after they've been used as mall crawlers... but a few still live on as unstoppable overland beasts. These are one of the few vehicles that actually go up in value with the right overlanding modifications and the right overlanding scars. Find one that was used as a mall crawler and save it before it gets sent to be a workhorse in someone's private military. (Then later convert it into a PHEV overlanding beast)
     
  17. KarenRei

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    #17 KarenRei, Jul 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    Where did the idea of fabricating air suspension come from? I'm talking about waiting for factory air suspension.

    1) In Iceland, you can't get a Land Cruiser in good shape for $5k. I could get $3k for even my bad-shape pickup if I wanted. The cheapest Land Cruisers for sale right now on our equivalent of Craigslist (bland.is) are nearly $7k, and have nearly 400k km on them.
    2) Yeay, an ICE!
    3) Yeay, no climate control without running a rumbling engine and emitting exhaust that can kill you in your sleep, while out in a place where nighttime temperatures are generally below freezing!
    4) Yeay, buying fuel for my trip at - in US terms - $8 a gallon- for a vehicle that averages 13-14 mpg.
    5) Yeay, spending many thousands of dollars on something I have no interest in! Plus extra annual maintenance, registration fees and inspection costs!

    .... No. ;)

    I don't understand what's confusing about not wanting to own or drive an ICE, on this forum of all places. I actually want to institute a policy in my new home, that an ICE will never be driven into its garage.

    Also, I think I pointed out that even the gravel road to my land isn't exactly smooth sailing.

    [​IMG]

    Thankfully it's not that long, only about a kilometer like that :)

    Besides.... I'd miss one of the best parts. You pull up to some campsite in the middle of the wilderness in a Land Cruiser, nobody will blink an eye. You pull up there in a Tesla, on the other hand.... ;)
     
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  18. PNWmisty

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    It's my understanding that in most years, all the snow melts. The glaciers are ice remnants from snowier periods (in other words, the glaciers are not getting bigger any more). I know, splitting hairs.

    A google image search for "Iceland highland roads" shows a bunch of roads from Iceland's highlands. Obviously. But almost all of them look very tame by "off-road" standards. Which is very good because the Model 3 is not an off-road vehicle. Around here we call those "all-weather roads" which means they have a firm base that can support the weight of a vehicle even when saturated.

    I would be somewhat hesitant to drive through standing water deeper than about 5-6inches. It may be fine. But the consequences may be expensive. There is also the potential issue of being stranded in a very remote location. Or are highland roads fairly well travelled? Is there cell service?

    Of course, anything would be better than my friends Saab. This was years ago, I think it was a 1977 model (very nice car, almost new) and we had stayed overnight at a friends cabin. When we left in the morning there was about 5" of water on the road. I told my friend not to worry. He barely entered the water when it died. It turns out the Saab air intake was plumbed right down to the bottom of the car (probably to take advantage of the pocket of high-pressure air under the car) and the engine was totalled!

    You might ask Tesla what the issues are with driving through standing water. I know some ICE cars are limited by the height of the breather on the differential. You can drive through the water but then the differential oil needs to be replaced immediately because your differential will fail shortly afterwards. I wonder what kind of breather the Model 3 drive units have?

    Personally, I have done a lot of driving on roads that look a lot like the Highland roads in my Mazda CX-5 and the wheels still look new. As long as you aren't tailgating other drivers at high speeds they really shouldn't take much wear. Because rocks displaced by the treads tend to travel away from the wheel. And speeds are lower. The Aero wheels have a high-quality paint finish. Just remain vigilant for road hazards and travel at appropriate speeds. Because it's not really designed for that kind of environment.

    Maybe you should see if dad will buy you a Model X instead? :cool:
     
  19. PandaM3

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    Sounds like maybe should be looking into a Model X
     
  20. KarenRei

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    #20 KarenRei, Jul 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
    This is true. While there is year to year randomness, and some years we get growth, in general our glaciers are receding. And some, disturbingly fast. Snæfellsjökull - the one visible from Reykjavík on a good day - probably only has a couple decades left.

    It depends. I don't know what you saw when you googled, as Google's returns vary from place to place. The main north-south roads that get most of the traffic are mostly "bad" in the sense of being very washboardy and potholed, and having some fords to cross. For example, here's some random shots from one of them, Sprengisandsleið:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It's the side roads that are killer. For example, I mentioned in another thread that I did Gæsavatnaleið the other year:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I would not do roads like that in a Model 3. But my feelings are that with the bit more elevation provided by air suspension and larger tires, Model 3 could handle the tamer roads. So long as the washboardiness doesn't rattle it to bits ;) (it rattled my Ford's radio in half).

    Thankfully, mud is not generally a problem here. :) The country is too young to have much erosion to clays or other really fine sediments. In some places we have peat bogs, but generally not in the highlands. There's very little life at all in the highlands, to the point that it's sometimes eerie. You might come across a single plant growing on its own, some little flower, and think, "How did it get here? How can pollinators find it?" Or you're in the middle of this moonscape, and then suddenly come into a patch of lush, luxurious green covering a couple hectares... and then you move on and it's the moon again. The place really has an effect on you :)

    The highlands threats are rocks, water, and isolation. Lots of all three ;)

    Gotta do that even on the major roads, let alone the minor ones that lead to specific destinations. And remember, some of the crossings (actually, the majority of them) are flowing. Crossflow - and your forward wake - means even more height. But this is on a car with what should be 7,4" clearance (very high suspension setting + larger tires); I wouldn't give a second thought to 5-6 inches of water, just tickling the underside. My worries start to creep in in the 9-12" range, and they become significant in 15+" range.

    Oh, very much. But the risk is part of what makes the highlands fun ;) Now, of course, getting rescued out there can cost over $1k... and there's "inventive" ways you can lose your vehicle. For example, the water on Flæður (several-kilometer-wide braided river) is only a couple centimeters deep on average - sometimes more, sometimes less. But it's packed with sediment, and flowing atop a deep sediment bowl, so if you just sit still out there for prolongued periods of time.... ;)

    Depends on the road. The major north-south ones, yes. The side roads to get to specific locations can be very little traveled, depending on the road. Cell service... surprisingly, yes, usually! We're a very connected country. When our last highlands volcano went off, there was live web streaming of it ;)

    ***facepalm***

    Yeah, if there's not much info forthcoming by the time it would be of issue, I'll pick their brains as much as I can. The hard part will be getting an answer from someone who actually knows the right answer. There's also some of the people with lots of teardown experience and those who salvage Teslas, like Ingineerix. I imagine people like him would have a pretty good sense of how well the car would likely deal with different water levels.

    Hehe.. not in my budget, and I don't have interest in such a big "guzzler" ;) Plus it's not any more "offroad" (except for a better natural clearance) - it's not built to take a punch. And is probably a lot more expensive to repair than a Model 3.
     

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